The Video Essay Podcast is a monthly (sometimes twice a month) show dedicated to discussion of the theory and practice of videographic criticism. Most episodes features a one-on-one interview with leading practitioners of the form, including critics, scholars, and filmmakers. The podcast was named the best new Film & Moving Image Studies Podcast in 2019 by Film Studies for Free (edited by Catherine Grant).
The podcast is accompanied by a weekly newsletter, "Notes on Videographic Criticism," which is free and published on SubStack. The newsletter features a short blog-style essay by Will DiGravio, a round-up of video essay-related news and notes, short interviews with creators, information on the podcast, and more. You can learn more about the newsletter and subscribe here.
Since the the podcast launched in the summer of 2019, it has expanded beyond one-on-one interviews to feature live events and roundtable discussions. One of the show's main goals is to encourage listeners to produce their own videographic criticism. The show regularly facilitates the making of videographic criticism by assigning "homework" to viewers. From April - July 2020, listeners were assigned the videographic exercises developed for the Scholarship in Sound & Image Workshop at Middlebury College. Listeners made a combined 60+ videos, all of which are collected here. The following month, the podcast partnered with the Cary Comes Homes Festival to present, "The Journeys of Cary Grant: An Audiovisual Celebration." Listeners and the general public were invited to create and submit video essays to be screened at the festival and published online. The projected culminated in a live screening and discussion with seven of the creators. Watch and read more here.
After the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, Kevin B. Lee, Cydnii Wilde Harris, and Will DiGravio began curating the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist, a collection of more than 100 audiovisual works that reappropriate existing media to critically examine race, systemic racism, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and other pertinent topics. Selections from the playlist have screened at festivals and academic conferences. The podcast website hosts the playlist, which can be accessed here.
The term "video essay" is a loosely-defined one. Video essayists come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and artistic traditions. This podcast aims to push back against any preconceived definitions of the video essay and ask a simple question: what can a video essay be? This question has been debated among practitioners of the form for years, and this podcast aims to document those conversations as best as one can. For more information on videographic criticism, or what is sometimes referred to as audiovisual criticism, check out this list made by Ian Garwood, a professor at the University of Glasgow.
About Will DiGravio
Will DiGravio is an audiovisual essayist, writer, and the host and creator of The Video Essay Podcast. His current projects include "Rio Bravo Diary," a Twitter-based, videographic study in which he is watching Howard Hawks's Rio Bravo (1959) over the course of one year. He has also produced a number of video essays, including "The Barber Approves", which was named one of the best video essays of 2019 in the annual Sight & Sound survey of the year's most notable work. He is currently an associate editor for Screenworks, the peer-reviewed journal of film and media practice research. And since 2018, his film essays and reviews have appeared regularly at Film School Rejects (aka One Perfect), where he worked as an editorial intern and has remained a contributor. In 2020, he earned an M.Phil. in the Centre for Film & Screen at the University of Cambridge, where he studied as a Keasbey Scholar. In 2019, he worked as the teaching assistant at the Scholarship in Sound & Image Workshop at Middlebury College, co-organized by Jason Mittell and Christian Keathley. He graduated from Middlebury with a B.A. in Film & Media Culture that same year. Follow him on Twitter @willdigravio.